EUGENE, Ore. (CN) – Environmentalists sued the U.S. Forest Service over its thinning plan for Umatilla National Forest in Oregon, which they say will fail to serve its purpose and hurt adjacent roadless areas. The League of Wilderness Defenders-Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project and the Sierra Club say the Wildcat Fuels Reduction and Vegetation Management Project was approved after a deficient environmental assessment.
The project is intended to reduce timber losses from insect infestation and restore historic forest conditions, among other purposes, the lawsuit states.
But instead of benefiting the forest, the plan will cut old-growth trees and build roads that damage ecological integrity, hurt sensitive specie, degrade water quality and increase the risk of severe fire, the groups say.
T he assessment failed to consider impacts to two contiguous roadless expanses, one at 23,000 acres south of the project area, and another 17,000 acres north of it. Those areas include inventoried and uninventoried roadless areas, and areas with wilderness potential.
The faulty environmental assessment is based on controversial science that proposes to remove up to two-thirds of the trees to deal with insect outbreaks, the suit states.
Represented by Sean Malone, the plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief.